Yes, I torture myself. Is it good enough? Is it even good? I don’t want to empower that voice, but it’s inevitable. What’s also inevitable is the joy I feel – if not while I’m writing, then afterward. It’s an important part of my life, my own little world where I can do whatever I want. It’s my respite, it’s my vacation and vocation. It feels like all I need. It’s also communication; I want people to read it. So I’m conversing, but really only with myself; that’s when things get confusing.
Driving to work this morning I cried listening to Sunday Morning by the Velvet Underground, a favorite since high school. On the eve of my fortieth birthday I felt the weight of it: my youth, people who aren’t here anymore, places and times I’ll never see…layer upon layer of nostalgia. Watch out, the world’s behind you. Life is frightening and I’m so lucky to have it.
I leave early for work to 1) beat traffic and 2) get to the coffee shop so I have an hour and a half to write. Today I woke up with a massive, stomach-turning headache. I didn’t want to be in bed but I left my house too early – the coffee shop wasn’t even open. I sat in my car, listening to music. I got breakfast at McDonald’s. When I finally got down to business I didn’t write any more than I normally do. Three pages in my journal then five hundred words of the novel, where I wrote some scenes of a breakup. It’s not the most fun thing I’ve ever written but it’s telling the story, which is what I need to do to finish.
Ted Bundy documentary – maybe for the first time I heard that familiar refrain “But he seemed so normal” as what it really is: white/class/male privilege at its most insidious. The fucking shit that dude got away with astounded me. How much do I get away with as a person who as access to a lot of the same privileges? What kind of shit do I not have to deal with on a daily basis?
Above: the joy of discovering a great Abba track you’ve never heard before, followed by the pain of having it obsessively run through your head for hours on end.
What’s the title of the incest novel? First it was Taboo City, but I don’t think it’s that anymore. Dad’s Sad was one I batted around, and more recently A Manual for Faggots, but I’m not sure where that one is coming from. Before it gets a title it needs an ending, and I took the day off from working on that to relax and goof around with a porno story – the one about office mates who find a guy to rim them. I had the characters get into some workplace shenanigans and it was fun to write.
There’s a question surfacing about what it means when writing is fun versus when it feels like work. I think both modes are useful.
I didn’t read any of the Samuel Delaney novel this weekend. I watched Kimmy Schmidt and Ted Bundy, but I’m not putting up a picture of either of them, so here’s a photo of model Bob Kolinski. I don’t know who took it.
Wrote a thousand words today which is higher than average, but still: What if it’s bad? It felt kind of boring to write, maybe it’s boring?
Okay, think of one good thing you wrote today without going back to look at it… They go to the park on [protagonist] Bart’s birthday and get high with the hippies on the hill, then hit on one of the older hippie guys and make him so uncomfortable that he leaves.
Well that’s a little triggering – like, they made somebody uncomfortable then laughed about it. And wait, what are the politics you’re presenting in this book, anyway? It’s an incest fantasy but incest hurts a lot of people. And you’re an approaching-forty (in just a few days, people!) dude writing about a sexually-precocious teenager and isn’t that a little irresponsible? Someone could use your work to justify their violence or ignorance…
Maybe, and that would pain me. But to address the first charge: the characters are teenagers, and teenagers do mean shit. I’ve done mean shit. It’s my fiction and it’s my truth. I have legitimate and even painful reasons why I write and fantasize about incest, and writing about it makes me smile and will probably make other people smile and/or get hard and if I hurt somebody, maybe they’ll tell me and I’ll understand and maybe it’ll change me, but until then I just do what I do…
And that’s as much “talking myself out of holes” as I’m going to do today.
Above: The song of the day has just got to be Dead of Night by Orville Peck which my friend just introduced me to last night. Gothic Lynch Lana Americana, pierce my vein and flood it in, baby.
“I love you,” I said, and I’d never meant it less.
I thought that was pretty good. I journaled, too – I’ve been doing that in a spiral-bound notebook, which is a switch from my typical composition book journal, but it’s allowed me to stretch out a bit and try some different things, cause my journaling can get stagnant.
I’ve been very slowly reading Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany. I got really into it at one point, and suddenly the curtains collapsed on the world he’d created and I realized I’d only been reading the prologue. And now I’m having some trouble following it but I’m still committed because the thing about Delany is, even when you don’t know what’s going on it’s still interesting.
At any rate, I didn’t read any of it today, and I probably won’t, but I want to dip into it this weekend. I watched RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m so bummed Valentina got voted off. I’ll be less interested in watching that show, now.
Today: nothing. Except this (which I’ll presumably finish), and some emails at work. I work full-time now. It’s a real bummer in some non-financial ways, but having a tight schedule has been good for my writing practice. I want to get back into the habit of putting stuff online, and one idea is to post a bit about what I write each day.
Lately I’ve been writing five days a week. But there are periods when I’m writing all the time, or a few times weekly, or not at all. I journal (longhand) more than I write fiction, and prefer to work in a coffee shop rather than at home.
Currently I’m working on what I conceived as my incest opus – the first draft of a novel about a sexually precocious young man who falls in love with his father. I wrote most of it a year and a half ago and it always needed an ending, so I’m finally writing that. I have other projects on the back burner, like a story about work buddies finding a “fag” to rim them, and a novella based on an older story of mine that I swear I will finish one of these days.
I suppose I’m trying to hold myself accountable for the amount of work that I do by sharing it online, and hopefully engaging some people with the process. I don’t share as much as I used to online. I’m afraid of the internet. Social media helped elect Trump and continues to give a voice to him and other radical/nationalist factions that are out for blood. Perhaps we should consider deleting all of our social media accounts.
This is Greg Brady’s attic bedroom. I think about it all the time.
Hey there. I just posted a new story, an excerpt from my 2017 novel My Sister’s Boyfriend. It’s called Once Friends and it’s about former high school buddies who meet up and reminisce about the good-ole-dick-sucking-days.Hope you like it.
I’ve been laying pretty low I suppose but still working on things.
Yesterday: driving around Pittsburgh, seeing digital billboards projecting the Star of David with the word “Unite.” I saw it and I instantly felt better. Maybe people will unite, I thought. Maybe something good will come out of this. That feeling quickly collapsed into meaninglessness. A media company slogan. No action attached to it. No nothing.
I call a close relative. She saw that there was a vigil for the victims of the synagogue shooting. “What’s a vigil going to do?” she says. “Another shooting. People say the same things. Nothing changes.”
I hang out with my friend. She was on the bus earlier, heading home from work. A black man got on, clearly drunk and disoriented. Not harassing anybody. Two white women took it upon themselves to change the situation. Threatened to call the cops on him. Found a bottle of booze in his bag and dangled it in front of him to lure him off. “They were so proud of themselves,” my friend says, angry and exasperated. “What the fuck is wrong with people?”
I read the list of victims and wasn’t surprised to note one familiar name. Pittsburgh feels like a small town, especially when you’ve lived here a while. Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz. I didn’t know him, but I worked for nine years in HIV research and he treated many of our clients. There are just a few doctors in Pittsburgh who are known to be good with HIV-positive people. He was one of the few, and a seemingly well-loved one. Did he deserve to die like that? I know it’s a cliche. Nobody deserves to die.
Trump is in Pittsburgh as I write this. Surreal is not the word. Gaslighting is. Nothing means anything. Actions have no consequences. Reality is whatever you want it to be.
I live in a country built on genocide and denial. I come from a race of people who’ve covered this beautiful earth like a plague and turned it to shit.
I’ve been collaging a lot lately (see image above!) and posting my stuff pretty much exclusively on Instagram. So if you don’t follow me on there already, maybe you want to? I don’t know. Is anybody even reading this? I post a lot of other stuff on there that is probably way too personal to share, but here we are in 2018, conditioned to embrace the fact that privacy is a relic.
I’ll be at the Pittsburgh Zine Fair Sunday October 14th, selling my books, collages and other stuff. Come say hay!
In other news, I’ve been pretty busy with some new jobs but still (always) finding time to write. I have a novella and a novel in the pipeline – I’m most excited about the novel, and I hope to have a second draft of that done by next spring. I feel like that’s a long time but honestly, novel writing is a fucking undertaking! Every time I think of my manuscript, with its numerous detours, loose ends and messy passages I just get overwhelmed. It’s a lot to keep in the ole brain box all at once. But I have a goal, and I feel good about that.
p.s. – I don’t know why the link to comments aren’t showing up on my posts; it’s a weird little bug that I haven’t had time to try and fix. But comments are open, you just have to click on the post title to get to the form.